Just like the dashboard of your car helps you navigate safely to your destination, your business dashboard puts your most valuable information at your fingertips.
Data-driven businesses use dashboards to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and other key data points related to a business, department, or specific process. The idea is to give users a simple way to help your organization improve performance and streamline processes.
How can companies use business dashboards?
A well-designed dashboard can help to align organizational efforts, make fast, informed decisions, and improve business performance. Common objectives are to:
Align departments. For example, you may want to give the manufacturing department better visibility into the sales forecast for better demand planning.
Consolidate information from multiple software applications. Combining information from an accounting system like QuickBooks with a customer relationship management (CRM) system used by your sales teams can help you use your data to make better business decisions.
Track performance and spot trends over time. By comparing current data with historical data, like month over month or year over year, you can discover patterns, track KPIs, and drill down to find the root cause of any changes.
Detect anomalies. Companies can add automation that get triggered when various thresholds are reached or anomalies are detected.
Monitor business health. Key metrics can be used to measure performance.
Reporting vs. dashboards: Understanding the difference
Many companies still run using month-end and year-end reports. Someone usually has to spend hours manipulating Excel spreadsheets and mastering the art of the pivot table and PowerPoint to turn raw data into usable information. But even then, most reports only show what’s already happened.
By contrast, business dashboards provide near real-time data, and often allow the user to drill down to see the detail. Operational dashboards can be built for any set of users. They give organizations agility by providing users with the information they need to make informed decisions in the moment, like:
- Adjusting the marketing budget based on campaign effectiveness or current lead flow
- Re-routing service personnel based on weather or traffic
- Shifting the production schedule based on inventory availability
While executive dashboards will provide the big picture with charts and metrics providing insight into the overall health of the company, comparing actuals to goals, most users will primarily use a departmental dashboard for their business area.
A financial dashboard might show:
- Current bank account balances
- Outstanding receivables and payables
- Sales forecast for the next 30-60-90 days
- Departmental budgets
- Profit margins by category
Sales dashboards would contain completely different information, and might include:
- Number of new sales inquiries
- Customer acquisition charts
- Rolodex of customer contact information
- Sales pipeline broken down by rep, team, line, or sales stage
- List of current discounts, promotions and marketing campaigns
Building better a business dashboard
How do you actually create a business dashboard that’s meaningful and immediately accessible to anyone who views it? It’s easy to overcomplicate your design and wind up with a cluttered, noisy mess that’s not actually helpful for anyone. The company databox.com put together a great list of 21 practical tips for building better business dashboards. Their top ideas for getting started are to:
- Know your Key Business Objectives (KBOs)
- Understand your target audience
- Keep the dashboard simple and relevant to the user
- Create multiple dashboards
- Make the dashboard visually appealing with plenty of white space and color-coding
Have questions? Looking for ideas?
The types of dashboards you need depend on your type of business. We can help you build analytical dashboards that give you insight into your customers and keep your entire team informed about current business operations.
Book a time with us to learn about your options. Based on your needs and strategic goals, we can recommend the right dashboard and reporting tools to help you achieve your strategic goals. From building a single dashboard to developing customized business metrics, our team has the experience to manage your analytics project.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is in a good business dashboard?
A good business dashboard should track KPI’s, data performance, and key metrics.
Why do I need a dashboard?
A business dashboard is a major tool you should be utilizing. It tracks and analyzes your key data and metrics to monitor your business health and performance. You will get your answers quickly from a big glance at all operations.
How do I make an effective dashboard?
Eclipse Consulting is here to help you create a totally customizable dashboard for your company. We can create whatever you may want or need on your dashboard to track analytics.